Are you feeling tired with normal activities? and if it does not go away with the sufficient night rest then be alert and take action as you may be suffering from Anemia!
It’s a very common medical condition and can be easily treated.
It affects all ages, races ethnic groups. Both men and women suffer anemia but women and children are more vulnerable.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is medical condition in which you suffer reduced ability to carry oxygen in your blood. Which could be due to low Red blood cells or due to low hemoglobin.
Red blood cells carry a special protein called hemoglobin on them.Haemoglobin uses iron to carry oxygen. These red cells deliver oxygen from lungs to rest of the body. Oxygen is necessary for the body to make energy and carry out all its functions.
So when one suffers from anemia his or her ability to carry oxygen to rest of the body is diminished and hence there is low energy and reduced ability of body’s performing necessary functions as a result you feel tired and develop other symptoms.
Types of anemia
There are many causes of anemia common causes are
1.Due to reduced or defective red cells production.
Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow ( spongy tissue inside the bones in the body)
To make healthy hemoglobin and red blood cells our body needs Iron, vitamin B12, folic acid(one of the vitamin B) small amounts of other vitamins and minerals, and proteins. We get these nutrients from food.
Also one chemical called erythropoietin (produced in kidneys) is required to boost production of red blood cells.
Conditions causing reduced or defective red cells production
- Poor nutrition
- Certain drugs
- Chronic illnesses
- Cancer and treatment of cancer
- Increased demand in Pregnancy
- Autoimmune diseases
- Certain inherited disorder
2.Due to destruction of red blood cells– Sometimes red blood cells are destroyed before their normal life span in large numbers but body cannot make up for enough supply.
Conditions causing destruction of red blood cells
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia, where the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies its own red blood cells as a foreign substance and attacks them.
- Certain inherited illnesses.
- Infections (e.g. Malaria, Dengue, HIV)
- Liver diseases
- Spleen diseases
- Certain drugs
- Vascular grafts, prosthetic heart valves, tumors, severe burns, exposure to certain chemicals, severe hypertension, and clotting disorders
3.Due to blood loss.
When one loses blood one loses large amount of Red cells.
Causes of blood loss are
- Heavy bleeding in periods.
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, gastritis(inflammation of the stomach), and cancer.
- Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirinor ibuprofen, which can cause ulcers and gastritis
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of anemia develop as body has to work hard to adjust with low oxygen. Anemia can be mild, moderate or severe. It can also be temporary or a longer-lasting problem. Sometimes symptoms of mild anemia can be unnoticed but as anemia worsens symptoms can worsen.
- Fatigue-tiredness after shorter and shorter periods of exertion
- Shortness of breath while climbing staircase or lifting something or during normal activity
- Feeling faint or dizziness, light headedness
- Fast heartbeat
- Confusion ,lack of concentration
- Numbness, feeling cold in hand and feet
- Heavy periods or irregular periods
- Strange craving food
- Hair loss ,dry brittle hair
- Black Stools –if there is bleeding in digestive system
- Chest pain ,chronic body pain
- Pale skin and eyes
- Shiny tongue
- Discoloration of nails
- Loss of sleep
With severe or long-lasting anemia, the lack of oxygen in the blood can damage the heart, brain, and other organs of the body. Very severe anemia can even cause death.
Diagnosis of Anemia
You may come to know about anemia in various ways either on routine investigation or on testing for another conditions and or when your doctor advises tests for symptoms you have developed.
Doctors may take various steps to find out anemia, its severity and cause and to monitor treatment.
- Proper history about your sign and symptoms with respect to duration and its progress
- Your personal history includes your occupation, dietary habits or drug addiction etc.
- Your past history and family history of any illness occurred
- Your menstrual history and pregnancy history etc.
This is done to confirm which organ or body system is involved. Your doctor may check the color of your skin, gums, and nail beds and look for signs of bleeding or infection. He or she may listen to your heart for a rapid or irregular heartbeat and your lungs for rapid or uneven breathing. Your doctor also may feel your abdomen for an enlarged liver or spleen, check for bone pain, or conduct a pelvic or rectal exam to check for internal bleeding
3.Test and procedures
Commonly done test for diagnosing Anemia
- CBC-Complete Blood Count –It is broad scale test provides count of all cells in the blood. It also gives reading about level of hemoglobin and other valuable information which decides if you have anemia and what is its type.
Depending upon test results of CBC your doctor may ask for further tests, like
Blood test –Serum Iron, Total iron banding capacity transferrin saturation, serum ferritin, comb’s test,G6PD etc.
Bone marrow study –Gives information about the marrow’s ability to make enough healthy blood cells.
Treatment of Anemia
Anemia can be mild ,moderate and severe.Depending upon cause and severity treatment is given by the doctor.You can even prevent some types with a healthy diet. Other types can be treated with dietary supplements.
However, certain types of anemia can be severe, long lasting, and even life threatening if not diagnosed and treated.
If you have signs or symptoms of anemia, see your doctor to find out whether you have the condition. Treatment will depend on the cause of the anemia and how severe it is.
Medicines –Your doctor may give you medicine to treat underlying condition causing anemia.
Dietary changes food to improve your red cell and hemoglobin count if anemia is due to nutritional reason.
Supplements –Doctor may need to give you Iron, vitamin B12, folic acid supplement if your diet is poor.
Supplements can be given orally or intravenous (directly in the vein) or intramuscular (directly in the muscle) depending upon severity.
Bone marrow transplant –replaces your faulty stem cells with healthy ones from another person (a donor). Stem cells are made in the bone marrow. They develop into red and white blood cells and platelets
Surgery-Surgery may needed for underlying causing blood loss such as uterine fibroid, hemorrhoids, ulcer, cancer etc.